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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 23:40 GMT 00:40 UK
Phone boss admits streaking role
Two streakers invaded the pitch during the Tri-Nations clash
The Tri-Nations match was halted due to the streakers
Police are considering action after Vodafone's chief executive admitted he encouraged a plan to disrupt the Tri-Nations match between New Zealand and Australia.

Grahame Maher, head of the Australian arm of the British-based Vodafone Group plc, said a man had told him he might pull an illegal stunt which would give the company publicity.

"We said whatever you want to do, if it is good for us we would love to be involved," Maher said in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.


He said he had some ideas about what he could do to get some international television exposure
Grahame Maher

Two streakers bearing the Vodafone logo on their bodies invaded the pitch during the second half of the match in Sydney.

Police Superintendent Commander Allan Wilson said at a news conference on Monday that Vodafone could face significant penalties.

"There are appropriate laws, appropriate penalties as well, in relation to anyone who incites or encourages any criminal offences so that law is in place and we wish to have that as a deterrent in future," he said.

Wilson said the incident was not a good advert for the sport.

"I think it's bad publicity for the game itself and I think that what went on was an unlawful stunt, if that's the reasoning behind it, but that's yet to be determined."

The streakers ran up to and around All Blacks fly-half Andrew Mehrtens as he was preparing for a crucial penalty kick.

After the men were removed by security, Mehrtens missed the kick and the All Blacks went on to lose the match 16-14 against their bitter rivals.

Maher said he had agreed to pay any fines the pranksters incurred for their stunt at the old Olympic Stadium in Sydney, which is sponsored by one of their main rivals.

Matthew Burke kicked Australia to glory
Australia won with a late kick from Matthew Burke

"He said he had some ideas about what he could do to get some international television exposure at Telstra Stadium, and if he did and it cost a fine would I pay it?" Maher added.

"I said sure, and lo and behold it then happened."

Maher said he now regrets his decision to encourage the man, who he knew only as "Brett", and stressed he did not know what he had planned.

One of the streakers was charged with wilful and obscene exposure, resisting police and entering a playing field without reasonable excuse and was bailed to appear before court.

The other received on the spot fines for indecency and entering the playing field.


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